Formula One: Hamilton wins in Russia to extend title lead to 50 points | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.09.2018
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Formula One: Hamilton wins in Russia to extend title lead to 50 points

Lewis Hamilton has tightened his grip on the championship with another victory, this time in Russia. Max Verstappen led the race for a long time, but Hamilton eventually prevailed with Sebastian Vettel coming third.

Lewis Hamilton took a step closer to a fifth Formula One crown with victory at the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi.

Hamilton started second on the grid and was helped to victory by his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who started on pole but followed team orders to move aside and allow Hamilton to victory.

Sebastian Vettel started in third and finished in third and rarely looked like challenging the dominance of the two Mercedes.

Max Verstappen, the Dutchman celebrating his 21st birthday, led the race for a long time after deciding to pit late in the race after gliding through the field following his start from 19th on the grid, but the Red Bull driver was ultimately unable to finish higher than fifth.

Hamilton, who picked up his 70th career win, paid tribute to his teammate for allowing Hamilton to get the win — but Bottas was less than satisfied with the situation.

"It's actually quite a difficult day," said Hamilton. "Valtteri was a real gentleman to let me through. To have a one-two, usually we'd be elated. Valtteri deserved to win... but today it was a real team effort."

Meanwhile, Vettel has seen the title slip away from him in recent races and admitted that he could find no way through the impenetrable Mercedes in front of him.

"It was tricky," admitted the German. "Hamilton and Bottas worked very well together. I tried to put pressure on Valtteri but couldn't get close enough. It was a good race, but not the result we wanted".

As it happened:

Lap 53/53 HAMILTON WINS THE RUSSIAN GP! He is now 50 points clear of Vettel in the title race.

Lap 52/53 About to start to final lap and Hamilton is crusing. Bottas asks “How are we going to finish the race?” Poor Bottas, still doesn't get it.

Lap 50/53 Unfortunately for Verstappen, for all his brilliant driving early on and staying in the lead for more than half of the race, won't finish higher than fifth. Drive of the day goes to the birthday boy though.

Lap 48/53 Anything other than a Hamilton victory seems highly unlikely, but Vettel still has time to give Bottas a run for his money.

Lap 46/53 Hamilton is comfortable out in front and appears set to win yet again and move even further clear in the title race. Vettel really needed to win today to make the championship interesting again.

Lap 44/53 Verstappen staying out so long at the front is interesting because it has allowed Vettel to keep Bottas in range.

Lap 43/53 Verstappen pits! He finally comes in and switches to the ultrasofts, rejoining in fifth and making way for Hamilton to lead the race.

Lap 42/53 Hamilton is running out of patience with Verstappen and is trying to get past him. Verstappen's tyres won't survive this.

Lap 39/53 It's remarkable that Verstappen is still out in front in this race, but Hamilton has just recorded the fastest lap of the race. So he's closing the gap, which is now 2.2 seconds. Verstappen is running out of time.

Lap 37/53 Verstappen is told by Red Bull that he's 3.4 seconds ahead and quicker than all of those behind him.

Lap 34/53 Hamilton is gradually extending his lead over Bottas despite a blister on his left rear tyre, but Vettel has just set the fastest lap of the race. 

Lap 32/53 Hamilton tells his team that he has some "hesitations" with his engine and that he can't go full throttle. Mercedes are looking into it.

Lap 29/53 Verstappen still leads, but when he finally pits Hamilton will be the race leader.

Lap 26/53 Mercedes instruct Bottas to stand aside and let Hamilton through. Bottas isn't happy and that's completely fair given that Bottas had a great chance of winning this race.

Lap 25/53 Vettel is applying some pressure on Hamilton, but Hamilton responds. He wants to keep some distance between him and the Mercedes.

Lap 24/53 Verstappen still leads but will need a tyre change in the next few laps. But he is in with a shout of a podium finish. 

Lap 21/53 There will be no action against Vettel for his move against Hamilton, the stewards conclude. Not surprising. 

Lap 19/53 Verstappen leads the race on his 21th birthday. That's nice for him given that he started 19th, but he will have to pit soon.

Lap 17/53 The stewards are reviewing Vettel’s two moves to try and keep his position ahead of Hamilton, but the German hasn't done anything wrong.

Lap 15/53 “How did that happen?” asks Hamilton after ending up behind Vettel. Not the first time he has been angered by his pit this season.

Lap 14/53 Hamilton also pits and he's in and out in 2.5 seconds, but exits the pits and goes wheel-to-wheel with Vettel, but the German's momentum carries him faster into the bend and Vettel holds off the Briton. What a moment!

Lap 13/53 Vettel pits! It's 2.8 seconds and he re-joins in fifth.  

Lap 10/53 Having climbed so impressively, Verstappen has a much tougher challenge to crack the top four. Raikkonen, in the Ferrari, is 12 seconds ahead of him.

Lap 8/53 Verstappen is now fifth! Unbeliebavle stuff from the Dutchman, whose Red Bull is far superior to most of the other cars, but still very impressive how he's glided through the field. And it's his birthday too!

Lap 5/53 Bottas pulling away from Hamilton at the front but the big mover is Verstappen, who is up from 19th on the grid to 9th!

Lap 3/53 No crashes on the opening lap, which is something of a minor miracle these days.

Lap 1/53 GO GO GO! Vettel makes a go for it down the inside, but Hamilton fends him off and Bottas keeps the lead.

13:05 Vettel's best chance of disrupting the Mercedes is surely on the first bend. Can he split Bottas and Hamilton and make a go for it? We're about the find out, with the warm-up lap underway.

13:00 We're just a few minutes to go in Sochi. It looks like it will be a one-stop strategy for both the top teams Mercedes and Ferrari.

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